Valerie’s Boat Sandbox & Garden

Name: Valerie
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Type of space: Backyard

Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: We use our backyard for lounging and playing and growing food. It’s fenced in, which is great for our dog and little kids. Additionally, off to one side of the deck we have an herb and vegetable garden, and the kids love to help out. We want our outdoor space to be beautiful and functional. It will always be a work in progress.

How did you create it?:
We moved into our home two years ago from San Francisco, and promised our son that one of the benefits of Ann Arbor was that we’d have room for a sandbox. I came across the boat sandbox pattern in a book called “Kids’ Places to Play.” The sandbox cover and sail are made from outdoor fabric. I’m not normally a fan of hosta, but the former owners planted some gems, and I’ve done quite a bit of rearranging of plants. The vegetable garden involved removing some grass, testing the soil, and adding a lot of manure and soil. We found our patio benches down the street, where they were set out on the curb for free. We brought them home, got rust off with a wire brush, and spray-painted them bronze. The cushions came from Target.

Recommended store, site, product or resource?
Our outdoor chairs are actually indoor chairs from Ikea, and the table and sun umbrella were on clearance at Target. Plants are mostly from The Produce Station, and Abbott’s Landscape Nursery, which are small, local businesses.

(Re-edited from a post originally published 06.30.09 – NM)